When the Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, it was marked by the ability to hear God’s voice. As the Apostle Peter declared: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Now everyone could hear from God in the same way as the Old Covenant prophets (Numbers 12:6; Hosea 12:10)! Under the New Covenant, we can all experience relationship with God first-hand (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Afterwards, we see this promise unfold in the life of the church. Just as Jesus promised, the Spirit acted as his continuing voice, guiding his people into truth (John 14:26), spoke about salvation and healing, lead them into mission and spoke about “things to come” (John 16:12-13).
Today, the voice of the Spirit is still speaking to continue the mission of Jesus. The same Jesus who walked the earth two millennia years ago is ministering via his Spirit (John 16:7) to sons and daughters, young and old in our congregations. He is speaking to transform us into followers of Jesus with words that are creative and life-giving (John 6:63; Matthew 4:4). When we hear God’s voice, we will be called to die to ourselves and experience resurrection life (Matt 16:24-25). We will be led into partnership with kingdom ministry and mission.
When we recognise the place of the Holy Spirit in discipleship, the role of the church becomes clear.
God has appointed the local church to be the primary vehicle through which people can experience the voice of the Spirit in ongoing ways (Acts 15:28). “Making disciples” (Matt. 28:19) involves equipping our congregation members to recognise and respond to the voice of the Spirit. When people hear from heaven, they will never be the same.
Of course, hearing the Spirit also has its risks. Humanity’s sin and selfishness mean that people can get it wrong – sometimes with devastating consequences. The words “God told me” have been used throughout history to manipulate, control and abuse. Such experiences are often the reason why church leaders reject the fullness of our New Covenant inheritance.
The challenges are real, but not insurmountable. In order to facilitate Spirit-led discipleship in our churches, we need to create communities that facilitate hearing God’s voice in ways that are both theologically sound and pastorally safe. At God Conversations, we are committed to providing resources that help do this. Our prayer is that you may build the church where everyone can recognise and respond to the voice of the Spirit for themselves. Ultimately, our goal is to make disciples who build God’s kingdom wherever they go.
Equip Your Church to Hear God’s Voice
50 Days of God Conversations is a tool that equips everyone in your congregation to recognise and respond to the voice of the Spirit for themselves (Acts 2:16,17). The program is based on the conviction that the experience of hearing God lies at the centre of discipleship and belongs in the accountability and safety of the local church. The program includes a 7-week small-group video Bible study, leadership training, a launch day and special Sunday Service focus during the 50 days period.
“So God told you to leave your husband?” “Yes” she answered, “He said I was released from my marriage.”
These are the kind of scenarios that cause pastors to wish they’d never taught their church members that God speaks. But this woman wasn’t using God as an excuse to get out of her marriage. She wasn’t looking for an escape hatch to find a younger model. This woman was a victim of domestic abuse. A marriage of ten years to a controlling and aggressive husband had left her fragile and broken. Her life was falling apart. Was it God speaking to her?
But then I heard God speak. He spoke prophetically, miraculously and in ways that resembled the way he spoke in the Bible. That left me with a whole lot of questions.
How did my experience compare to the experience of the Bible writers? What authority did it have in my life? Is it okay to say ‘God told me’ as they did in the Scriptures? And what about those times when people claim to hear God’s voice, but then it doesn’t happen?
Recently I completed my PhD in practical theology, examining the theology and practice of hearing God’s voice. Since then, people have asked me what I learnt from my work. As with all PhDs, it’s a long and sometimes complex read, so instead of you having to fossick through 80,000 words, this episode brings you the three most surprising insights. They include the neglect of revelatory experiences in the Protestant academy and their relationship to Catholicism; the central place of revelatory experiences in the New Covenant and discipleship and the unnecessary conflict between the Scriptures and the Spirit.
We believe that God speaks by his Spirit to children. As the scriptures tell us he poured out his Spirit on both the old and the young (Acts 2:17).
Our desire is that whole families would be equipped to recognise and respond to God’s voice.
Included in the God Conversations for Children Pack is a lesson plan, activities and resources to use during the God Conversations ministry visit. The content is aimed at children aged 7-10 years and can comfortably be taught within a 35min program. Please feel free to adapt the content to best meet the age and needs of your children and the program length you are working with.
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